Two members of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity charged with felony hazing will face a circuit judge today to be sentenced. Jason Harris, 25, and Michael Morton, 23, are scheduled to meet at 2:30 p.m. in Leon County Courtroom No. 3A to go before Judge Kathleen Dekker.
Chuck Hobbs, attorney for Morton, has been awaiting a ruling in the case since the two men were found guilty of third-degree hazing Dec. 15.
The two men could receive “probation or up to five years in prison,” Hobbs said.
This has been the first ordeal of its kind to be tried under a new Florida law.
Former Gov. Jeb Bush signed Florida Statute, Article 1006.63, Section 2 into law July 2005, making hazing a serious crime when it results in “serious bodily injury or death” toward a victim.
The law, known as the Chad Meredith Act, was formed after a University of Miami student drowned in a swimming incident as a result of hazing.
Under the article, fines for hazing could reach up to $15,000 for individuals charged with a life sentence.
First- and second-degree felons could receive a maximum fine of $10,000.
In the Kappa case, the convicted defendants were fined $5,000 as a result of being found guilty of third-degree felony charges. The men were also responsible to pay $50 each in court fees, which is outlined in Article 775.083, Section 1 and 2.
The victim, Marcus Jones, 20, a former FAMU environmental science student, received what jurors considered serious injuries from the beating incident that took place in March 2006.
Following the attack, Marcus Jones traveled home to Decatur, Ga.
His father, Mark Jones, a Kappa himself, said he noticed blood, caused by injuries to his buttocks, on his son’s clothing. Soon after, Mark Jones contacted authorities, alleging that his son had been a victim of hazing.
Marcus endured a broken eardrum allegedly due to being beaten with canes and other objects by the convicted. He also underwent surgery on his buttocks because of the severity of his injuries.
The case garnered attention from major news sources nationwide.
In a feature on MSNBC, Mark Jones was quoted to have said his son “looked like a soldier that you see on ‘M.A.S.H.'” after the beating and subsequent medical attention.
Bill Kaczor, a writer for the Associated Press, called the case “the first significant challenge for one of the nation’s toughest anti-hazing laws.”
In early January, State Attorney Frank Allman said the he was not sure what the final sentencing would be but “a maximum of five years” could be requested.
“No decision can be made toward sentences until the judge pronounces it,” Allman said.
The attorney would not comment on whether the state was pushing for the maximum penalty against the two men charged.
Within a few hours, the public may know the fate of Harris and Morton. A post will be made on thefamuanonline.com immediately following the sentencing.
More information about the sentencing will be published in the Jan. 31 issue of the Famuan.